Bingham County petition to join college district moves forward

Blackfoot

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IDAHO FALLS — The College of Eastern Idaho’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a petition for Bingham County to join the community college district.

Park Price said it was necessary for the CEI board to approve the petition Wednesday before it moved forward to the State Board of Education. Before that, the petition had to be verified and approved by the Bingham County Elections Office.

“Dan Cravens (of the Bingham County Republican Central Committee) came before the trustees and made a very excellent presentation of why he thought it was in the interest of Bingham County,” Price said.

Cravens foresees hundreds of students from Bingham County attending CEI, which is transitioning from being Eastern Idaho Technical College.

“They believe that Bingham County students will take advantage of the offerings and will be able to essentially stay at home while taking classes at College of Eastern Idaho at a very attractive rate that will tremendously benefit the county and the students,” Price said.

Cravens said the county government and local taxpayers could face a significant burden if Bingham doesn’t join the district.

“If we don’t join the district as it stands right now, for every student that enrolls from Bingham County — because we’re an out-of-district county right now — the county has to pay $50 per credit up to 10 credits per semester to the College of Eastern Idaho,” Cravens said.

Cravens said Bingham County joining the district would be beneficial for a few reasons.

“Our county, like a lot of counties in eastern Idaho, struggles (in) regards to the education attainment level in our workforce,” Cravens told EastIdahoNews.com. “Simply put, there’s not as many people in our workforce with post-secondary education and training,”

He said having more trained students in east Idaho would attract potential employers to a highly skilled work force.

“We see the community college as filling a very critical gap for our residents but also our businesses and also for our economic development efforts,” Cravens said.

If Bingham joins the district, high school students within the county would have access to dual-enrollment credits.

“We would foresee that these students would be able to not only to graduate high school with a diploma, but with their associate degree. That gives them a tremendous advantage,” Cravens said.

Cravens said it also would be a chance for established locals to continue their education, especially if the college offered some classes in Bingham County.

“Also we have a lot of folks who are established in the community who have families and jobs in Bingham County who would like to go back to school to enhance their career prospects, but it’s hard for them to do so and we see this as a tremendous tool to help them as well,” Cravens said.

The average Bingham County homeowner would have to pay $11 to $12 annually, or as Cravens said, the size of a medium pizza, while a part of the community college district.

If the state board approves the petition, the measure will go back to the Bingham County Elections Office for ballot approval as early as November. The measure needs a 50 percent plus one vote to pass.

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